Overfishing is the main reason for the plummeting numbers of shark and stingray species in the Mediterranean. Of the 72 known shark species in the area, 39 are already facing an “elevated risk of extinction,” said the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Of the 39, 20 species are already “critically endangered,” among them 12 shark species including the smooth hammerhead shark, great white shark, blue shark and eight ray species. The IUCN also noted that the conservation status of 11 of the species worsened since its last assessment in 2007.
This is not an early problem. According to The Hindu, 13 species of sharks and rays have already become extinct in the last half century, mostly due to overfishing. Local extinctions have also been prevalent in Spain, France, and Italy as well as in the nations that bordered the Adriatic Sea. These species are said to be particularly vulnerable to overfishing, as many of them take several years to mature and have a few young ones at a time.
Nick Dulvy, co-chair of the IUCN, said in a statement via Dive Photo Guide that governments will need to “establish fishing quotas and protected areas at domestic level.” At the same time, he warned consumers that they, too, have to be aware of the risk that these products entail.
In 2014, the National Geographic already presented numbers regarding the status of sharks and rays. Besides overfishing, habitat loss and climate change are also among the major threats of the species, especially considering that fisheries catching data underreport their fish counts, even to the point of “downplaying the true risk” of the threats on the sharks and rays.
The species that are at the highest risk of extinction live in the shallow waters of the Indian, Atlantic and western central Pacific Oceans. It seems that today, even the species that live in the Mediterranean are part of the list as well.